Mapping the urban forest

The City of Burnside has launched a state-of-the-art website which maps more than 37,000 trees - the first of its kind in South Australia and one of only a few of its kind in the world.

Urban Forest Interactive promotes and communicates the benefits of the Urban Forest by utilising existing data collected on Council’s 37,176 public street and park trees.

It allows access to Councils tree data online any time and on any device, in an engaging and interactive way.

When users click on an individual tree on the map, they are informed of the tree, name, age, height, circumference and even the tree identification number. Tree species are colour coded.

Burnside Council’s Coordinator Environment, Ben Seamark, said this is the first of its kind in South Australia and one of the first in Australia.

“We are one of only a number of cities in the world who have developed this. Others include the Cities of London, New York, Seattle and Melbourne. It takes static data and makes it dynamic which then drives policy.”

Seamark said that over the past four years Council had developed a state of the art Geographical Information System (GIS) to help manage its tree population.  

“We maintain spatial data on our trees and we wanted to share this collection of information with the community.”

Data is routinely updated when new trees are planted or removed.
The website was developed in-house, using councils own staff and saving the cost of a consultant.

“This is just the beginning of an exciting initiative to help connect the community with their Urban Forest.

“An informed community helps us make informed decisions to better manage the Urban Forest.”

“The gauge of success will not be how many people visit the site but will be based on the interest generated and the partnerships we can make with other agencies to further develop this initiative.

“Cities like New York and Melbourne recognised how the Urban Forest attracts people to their areas, which has a direct benefit toward economic competitiveness.”